Get to Know the 2018-2019 IT Solutions Outstanding Service Award Recipient

Q and A with Chris from IT

July 31, 2019 |

Left: Mark Johson, Vice President and CIO of IT Solutions; center: Chris Lienemann, Solutions Architect; right: Richard Davenport, President


Chris Lienemann is a Solutions Architect at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s IT Solutions. Chris recently received the 2018-2019 Outstanding Service Award for the IT Solutions division. This award is presented to select employees within the University in recognition of their extraordinary service, leadership, and commitment in their professional and personal lives. Browse our Q & A with Chris to learn more about what he does for IT Solutions. 


How long have you worked at the University and what brought you to IT Solutions? 

Chris: I’ve worked for the University almost eight years now, starting with the Career Development Center as their in-house IT staff member doing application support, data management, and reporting. Just over two years ago I moved over to IT Solutions as an interim Technology Director and am now a Solutions Architect. 


Could you explain your role as a Solutions Architect? 

Chris: Solutions Architects help IT Solutions and the other divisions and colleges within the University understand and coordinate with each other's strategic goals. We help reduce or remove barriers to getting projects done and help with communications and transparency around those projects. Each Solutions Architect works with a different University division or college to help people get things done as effectively, efficiently, and strategically as possible to better help our students be successful. 


What is your philosophy on working with clients? 

Chris: Over my career I’ve found there are a few key things to remember when helping people:  

Be adaptable. Meet each person where they’re at, particularly around technology. If you can quickly and accurately assess the situation, it will put you in a better position to provide the right amount of help where needed.  

Be genuine. As much as possible, do what you say you’re going to do. Own up to it when you make a mistake and always do what you can to try to make it right.  

Be honest. It’s okay to say “I don’t know,” but then you need to offer to seek out that information and relay it back promptly. 


What is the most challenging part of your job? 

Chris: The most challenging aspect of my job is working with the occasional person who is resistant to change. It takes patience and understanding, as there is always a good reason or prior experience behind their apprehension, but it can be frustrating for both sides. Having an established business relationship and sense of trust in each other can help, but it is still a difficult situation for both parties. 


What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Chris: I really like the variety of projects I get to work on. I’m constantly learning more about what the different University divisions are doing, how they approach our shared goal of helping students be successful, and what would be most beneficial for them. I enjoy teaching and coaching opportunities, so it’s fulfilling when I get to pass on my knowledge and help someone else better understand how something works, particularly around technology. 


You and your team seem to have a lot of fun together. You were recently out of the office for a while and some antics went on – you were replaced with a cardboard cutout! Are there any other memorable jokes? 

Chris: As a group, the Solutions Architects have a good sense of humor, and we’re constantly picking on and joking with each other throughout the day. Besides the wearable “Flat Chris” I found when I got back from vacation (and which I was told was more fun than I am), one of my favorite running jokes is the mythical bogeyman we call “Chris from IT.” This originated from some meeting notes that made their way around various departments in a classic version of “telephone” before making their way back to IT Solutions as a pretty wild rumor attributed only to “Chris from IT.” My team thought it was hilarious and now we blame “Chris from IT” for all sorts of unpopular decisions and general gremlin-like occurrences. 


What is your top tip for new students to get involved with IT Solutions and the services we offer? 

Chris: Jump in and ask! Our staff at the IT Solutions Center do a great job of getting new students up and running with the technology they need to be successful on campus. We also have a lot of free software solutions available that can help save money! 


Congratulations to Chris and all of the 2018-2019 Outstanding Service Award recipients!  



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